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You might have a bunch of pine cones in your yard right now, but instead of bagging them up or taking them to the compost site, the Minnesota DNR could PAY you for them!

I mean, it's not too often the trees in your yard can make you money, but that's the case now if you have an excess of black spruce, jack pine, and red pine cones in your yard. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Forest Nursery says it's all part of their plan to keep Minnesota's state forests healthy and strong and assist in reforestation efforts across the state.

I first heard about the program last winter. It's pretty cool: The DNR buys cones from citizens across the state which they then use those cones to help reseed over 5,000 acres of forests here in Minnesota.

And right now, pine cones from black spruce, jack pine, and red pines are in 'especially high demand.' That's the word from the DNR's Forestry Silviculture Program Coordinator, Mike Reinikainen. 

“We rely very heavily on the public to supply seeds and cones to the State Forest Nursery,” Reinikainen said in a DNR release. “Gathering seeds and cones is a great outdoor fall activity that helps produce future forests, plus it’s a good way to make some extra money.”

They're currently paying between $20 - $150/bushel, depending on the type of cone, the DNR said. Jack pine and red pine cones will be accepted through November, while black spruce cones will be accepted through February 2022.

And, while the DNR is specifically looking for those cones right now, did you know the DNR regularly buys seeds and cones from a variety of other trees? They do. But before you head out to your yard and start picking up various cones and seeds, the DNR says there are a few restrictions.

You'll want to first check in with the DNR forestry office nearest you before you collect any cones or seeds. They can give you a list of tree species they're accepting, as well as quantities and the dates and times seeds will be purchased. There are DNR seed collection field offices in our area in Faribault, Lake City and Caledonia. You can get more information about the program HERE.

And while you're out there foraging for pine cones, beware of snakes. Wait, what? While Minnesota may not be known as a state with a lot of snakes (like some out west are), did you know there are 17 species of snakes who call Minnesota home? Keep scrolling to check 'em out!

LOOK: The 17 Snake Species of Minnesota

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